Google Maps Brings AR Navigation
Google Maps brings real-time navigation to iOS and Android devices. Learn what to expect and how this new AR technology can help you find your way around town.
From flight training to video games, augmented reality (AR) is rapidly changing the way we learn, play, and interact with the world. Now, Google Maps is rolling out AR functionality to help people get from point A to point B and everywhere in between.
Google unveiled Maps' AR-enhanced navigation capabilities in 2018, with a beta version coming to iOS and Android phones in the coming weeks. The new Live View gives directions in real-time using the camera, making it even easier for users to find their way. The feature was originally limited to select users including high-rankers in Google's Local Guides program, those who signed up for Maps beta, and owners of Pixel phones.
While the Live View rollout is exciting, it comes with a few caveats. First, it will only work on smartphones that support ARCore and ARKit, the respective AR frameworks for Android and iOS. These frameworks enable apps like Google Maps to leverage the latest AR features and provide a high-quality user experience. They also help phones estimate the size and relative position of various objects, improving the accuracy of an app's AR functions. Second, Live View will only work in areas accessible by Google Street View. While most of the globe is covered, some more exotic areas will have to wait.
As expected, Live View will speed up battery and data usage, albeit "slightly," according to Google. Pokemon GO players are no doubt familiar with the AR's high resource demands. If you're set for a long day of exploring, make sure your phone is fully charged. Or better yet, travel in a group and divvy up the AR duty. It also wouldn't hurt to take breaks and bring along a portable charger and/or battery pack.
To launch Live View, first type in or touch your walking destination. Next, tap the directions button and select walking directions. Finally, tap Live View and start walking. The app will use GPS and Street View to determine where you are. Once it knows your position, it will display live arrows and other elements to help you find your destination. The process is quite impressive: Live View compares what your phone sees with Street View's index of images. By analyzing shapes and outlines and disregarding variable light and shadow, the app can in mere moments know your location and generate directions.
Live View is part of a larger update to Google Maps. With the demise of the Trips app and the marriage of flights and hotel booking in Google Travel, the tech giant aims to provide a complete travel solution. Users can specify travel dates, book flights and hotels at competitive rates, and use Live View to explore their locale with confidence. As AR continues to evolve, Google and other tech leaders will no doubt devise new ways to simplify and improve the way we live.